WAR OF 1812

The War of 1812 was fought between the British Empire and the United States of America and lasted for three years until 1815. Its main parties were British North America, the United Kingdom, and Britain's Indian allies. The main decision on the war declaration was made by the US. This fact has become a thought-provoking and debating issue among many historian.[1]

There were various causes for the declaration of war by the Unites States. One of the reasons was the trade restrictions that were introduced by Britain with the aim of creating the obstructions to trade business between the US and France. The latter was a country that was involved in war with Britain earlier. As the result, the US was able to prove those restrictions illegal based on the norms of international law.

The other reason of war was the impressment of American seamen into the Royal Navy. Another cause of such behavior on the part of America was the support of American Indians by British military representatives. In this case, one deals with the resistance to the northwest expansion of the American frontier. The Chesapeake affair was the example of British insults which provoked the desire of the American society to defend their national honor.[2]

The last cause of the conflict on the part of America was a possibility of the latter to join Canada. Some American and Canadian historians regard such a desire as an American goal. Despite the fact that, before the war, the British compromised with some of the aspects such as neutral trade, they still had a strong intent to have the right to return their sailors who deserted.

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The goal of the British side was to create a large Indian state that would be neutral and would cover larger parts of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. At the peace conference, the British made such a demand; however, they lost the battles that could validate their claims.[3]

The countries fought in the following theatres along the US Atlantic coast and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, on the oceans and on the long frontier. During the war, the British and Americans invaded the territory of each other. However, both of them either gained only temporary success or were unsuccessful. The end of the war resulted in the British holding parts of Maine State and some settlements in the west. At the same time, the Americans got Canadian land around Detroit, although, at the end of the war, those territories were restored.

Those times are also characterized by the French Invasion of Russia. The British were engaged in a war with Napoleon, thus, they could not allow the American side to help their enemy despite America's neutral right to do that. England wanted to avoid the war with the US, however, it did not want the US to hinder the efforts of the British against France. Furthermore, British had the idea that the US presented a real threat to their marine preponderance.;

During this war, the British had certain goals. They were committed to the idea of the defeat of France, thus, all of their forces were concentrated on it. In order to reach their aims, they needed sailors, which required commercial war against France accordingly. That was the result of the restrictions that were imposed on American merchant ships. Thus, as we see, such trade issues with the US provoked the split with the British.

During that period, some of the aforementioned restrictions on the neutral commerce were significant for the British. These limitations became the most extreme after 1807. Their main aim was not only to defeat Napoleon. The British were also very jealous about the commercial prosperity of the US at those times. The period from 1803 to 1812 was quite unfortunate for America due to the British political power, which was held by those who wanted both to defeat France and maintain their own commercial supremacy that was very rigid at those times. However, in 1815, the British were not controlled by politicians with the aforementioned views anymore. As a result, there was no dedication to commercial supremacy, which eradicated the cause.

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Another significant moment that stimulated the decision of the US to declare a war was the misrepresentation of the British policy by Washington's weak diplomats. That slowed down; the communication process between both sides and resulted in the fact that the US did not have a chance to learn about the reversal of policy until the war was declared.

There was a truce proposed by Americans within the frames of the sailors' issue. However, it was refused by the British as those sailors were still needed. Such impressments were the main reason of contention between both sides as England lacked the seamen to fight with Napoleon. There were also other restrictions on the US commerce imposed by the British Council orders. That was the main cause of complaint in 1807, which existed for the next five years. That was one part of the vast commercial struggle that was held between France and England during those times.

As we see, there were many reasons why the war started and continued for thirty-six months. However, its results did not involve any geographical or major policy changes. At the same time, all the war causes vanished when the war between France and Britain ended, and when the power of First Nations Indian tribes was destructed. Finally, the US fears of the Indians and the British plans to create a buffer Indian state disappeared as well.


  1. Risjord, Norman K. "1812: Conservatives, War Hawks, and the Nation's Honor. "William and Mary Quarterly 18, no. 2 (1961): 196-210. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1918543?uid=3739232?uid=2?uid=4?sid=21102526512997.
  2. Smith, Dwight L. "A North American Neutral Indian Zone: Persistence of a British Idea.";Northwest Ohio Quarterly;61, (1989): 46-63.
  3. Trautsch, Jasper M."The Causes of the War of 1812: 200 Years of Debate.";Journal of Military History;77, no. 1 (2013): 273-293.
  4. Jasper M. Trautsch, "The Causes of the War of 1812: 200 Years of Debate", Journal of Military History, 77, no. 1 (2013): 273-293.
  5. Dwight L. Smith, "A North American Neutral Indian Zone: Persistence of a British Idea, Northwest Ohio Quarterly,61, (1989): 46-63.
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